Presentation on theme: "SS.6.W.4.10 & SS.6.G.5.2. A Chinese explorer named Zhang Qian is often called the Father of the Silk Road. In 138 B.C.E., a Han emperor sent him west."— Presentation transcript:
A Chinese explorer named Zhang Qian is often called the Father of the Silk Road. In 138 B.C.E., a Han emperor sent him west with 100 men to try to form an alliance with western peoples against China’s northern enemy, the Huns. Although he was not able to form an alliance, he did bring back many goods and information from the people he met.
The Silk Road was divided into 2 major sections: East and West. The Eastern part traveled through both the Gobi and Taklimakan Deserts until it met with the Western part in Kashgar in the western part of the Taklimakan. Before entering the desert, travelers formed long camel caravans for protection. Caravan: a group of people traveling together Bactrian camels were especially well-suited for desert travel. They had double eyelids and nostrils that could close to keep out the blowing sand.
The Western Silk Road ran from the midpoint at Kashgar to various ports around the Mediterranean. Since the 1 st part of this journey involved crossing the Pamir Mountains, goods traveling westward went by yak rather than camel. This part of the route was sometimes called the “trail of bones” because of the many animals and people who died there. After the mountains, the route went through present day Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and the Syrian Desert before finally reaching the Mediterranean.
Silk was such a valuable item to people in the west because at first only the Chinese knew how to make it. It was also light which made it easy to transport. To protect the trade value of silk, the Chinese tried to keep the process for producing it a secret. Under the Han Dynasty, revealing the secret was a crime punishable by death!
Besides silk, the Chinese also traded fine dishware which became known as China. India sent various goods such as cotton, spices, pearls, and ivory back to China and other places along the route. The Romans, in particular, eagerly traded valuable goods for silk. Just as the Romans had never made silk, the Chinese were unfamiliar with glass production. The Romans knew how to blow glass into delicate items that the Chinese desired.
In Rome, Chinese silk was a luxury item which was rare and expensive. Even the richest Romans could afford to wear only a strip or patch of silk stitched to their white togas. In addition to fine glassware, the Romans also shipped massive amounts of gold to trade for silk. In fact, so much gold was shipped out of Rome that in the 1 st century C.E., the Roman emperor Tiberius passed a law forbidding men to wear silk. Despite the law, silk continued to flow into the Roman Empire.
The Silk Road opened under the Han and remained an important trade route for more than 1,000 years. Goods were not the only things to travel along the Silk Road; they also exchanged ideas. For example, you learned before that Buddhism began in India. Because the Silk Road passed through India as well as many other nations, religious travelers used the road to spread their beliefs. Buddhism was introduced to China around the middle of the 1 st century C.E. and would eventually become a major religion of China.